“Brothers and Sisters of the Union, some think the job you do is thankless; but for the workers that you help, it’s priceless, and I thank you for that.” – labour chief Lim Swee Say.
Apart from an unmistakable smell of toast and freshly brewed coffee, the air was thick with anticipation – anticipation that sets in at long conferences; anticipation that takes the place of tempered optimism; anticipation of a bold message from the labour chief of the NTUC, which in recent times have come under attack.
(“MM” being “Minister Moron”)
In a moment of candid frankness, he remarked of the union leaders “these are real people, with real heart…” he recalled, “fighting for better conditions for others, working to better the lives of workers, …” Humbly standing before elected union leaders and members, he thanked the valiant work of the 60+ unions present.
“Maybe some think you have a thankless job. But of the workers, what you do is priceless,” said the labour chief.
There is no denying, here is a man who has put himself out there, rolled his sleeves up, got down and dirty, drew and re-drew diagrams, invented and reinvented acronyms, rolled with the punches, shed tears, fought alongside, broke bread and shared victories with his people. So when you put that against the backdrop of scathing social media reports, ignorant trolls, bandwagon keyboard-warriors, apathetic beneficiaries, and accusations that Unions are useless in Singapore, you can understand the emotion seething throughout the hall.
He lets rip another gem. “We all want to be MAD,” he says.
“Make-A-Difference. that is…” to the laughter of many.
“In a perfect world, there is no need for a labour movement…” he says.
“But” he continues, “it is not a perfect world; there are problems to solve, and we have a purpose to serve.”
“At the end of the day, it is important to ask ourselves, are we pleased, proud, and most importantly, at peace with what we do?”